The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

High Level Meeting on Youth at the United Nations General Assembly 1 August , 2011

On July 25 and 26, over 500 youth representatives from all over the world came to the General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on the occasion of the High Level Meeting for the International Year of Youth on Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. The meeting, which included 2 panel discussions, several plenaries and a multitude of side events, was also attended by several official delegations from member countries of the United Nations.

The International Year of Youth, which began in August of 2010, aims to harness the energy, imagination and initiative of the world’s youth in overcoming the challenges facing humankind. Under the theme ‘Dialogue and Mutual Understanding,’ the Year aims to promote the ideals of peace as well as respect for human rights, freedoms, and solidarity. In addition, it encourages dialogue and understanding across cultures and generations.

In his remarks during the opening ceremony of the High Level Meeting, the United Nations Secretary General strongly condemned the bombing in Oslo and the shooting massacre at a Norwegian summer camp while reiterating that young people play a crucial role in creating a path of tolerance and understanding. “Young people often understand better than older generations that we can and must transcend our religious and cultural differences in order to reach our shared goals.”

Mr. Romulo Dantas, a youth representative from Brazil, called for a stronger partnership with governments and the United Nations in order to move further in the direction of trust and mutual understanding. “We all need to understand the fact that is impossible to build solutions for a diverse world once we are still lacking true partnership among all the important players in the youth field in many areas and at all levels.”

Several interventions, both from youth representatives and member countries, noted the discrepancies between the number of young people around the world – in some countries, youth represent over 60% of the population – and the resources allocated to this generation. In addition, many speakers made the case for “youth mainstreaming”, in a manner similar to what is done for gender mainstreaming. This proposal was applauded by all youth representatives present at the event.

Another intervention that was received very positively is that of the youth delegate from Germany who said that “Youth participation is not an investment; it is a value in itself”.

At the end of the High Level Meeting on Youth, an outcome document was adopted. It underlines the fact that, while the International Year of Youth is coming to a close, much still needs to be done and that youth and mutual understanding should remain a top priority for all sectors of the society.

The High Level Meeting on Youth was organized by the United Nations Intern-Agency Network on Youth Development. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is a key member of this network which adopted a statement expressing its plan to increase the effectiveness of the United Nations in advocating for and supporting national efforts to accelerate the implementation of international agreements and development goals as they relate to youth.

After the closing to of High Level Meeting on Youth, the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations held its annual meeting nearby. The Director of the UNAOC was invited to take part in a panel discussion about increasing collaboration between the United Nations and youth-led organizations. Building on the calls for partnerships made during the High Level Meeting on Youth, Mr. Scheuer underlined the fact that the UNAOC’s success and impact very much depends on collaboration with youth organizations: “We rely on the energy and innovativeness of youth organizations around the world to mobilize society at large and change the narrative about other cultures and religions. The UNAOC would not reach its goals without strong partnerships with youth organizations. We are now working on getting this great partnership to the next level.” The UNAOC Youth Program, especially through its Youth Solidarity Fund, aims to highlight and promote youth initiatives as well as support the development of partnerships with their respective governments.

For more information about the International Year of Youth, see


Tsu Koon: Malaysia – Vatican Ties Will Boost Inter-Faith Dialogue 21 July , 2011

KUALA LAMPUR, July 21 (Bernama) — The establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See in the Vatican is a positive boost for the Global Movement of the Moderates advocated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said Thursday.

In a statement, Dr Koh, who is also minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said Malaysia and the Vatican could now work together to promote the values of moderation and inclusiveness through meaningful inter-faith dialogue and exchanges, in line with the spirit of 1Malaysia and 1World.




Interfaith Worship Provides Education, Understanding 12 July , 2011

Imagine the primary Sunday morning service in a Christian church that begins with a 9-year-old Muslim boy offering the Islamic Call to Prayer, followed by a woman lighting candles on a table set with bread, wine and grape juice and offering the Jewish prayers that begin the Sabbath worship, followed by an Episcopal priest offering the “collect of the day.”

So began the interfaith service over the weekend at Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn. Parishioners specifically requested the service after reading about the national “Faith Shared” project, organized by Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First. The challenge in planning such a service was in knowing who from the other faith traditions to invite to help organize and participate in the service.


Muslim-Jewish Parley Seeks ‘Platform for Dialogue’ 5 July , 2011

The second annual Muslim- Jewish Conference kicked off in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, with 70 students and young professionals coming from around the world to promote mutual understanding between global Jewish and Muslim communities.

The event is sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding based in New York and the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, among others, with participants coming from Austria, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia and the United States.



Interfaith Services a Growing Trend in US

Washington—As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, interfaith relations in the U.S. are taking on new importance. A case in point is the growing momentum of the Faith Shared project, an interfaith initiative designed to promote understanding and respect across all religions through joint services.

Sunday, June 26, saw dozens of events taking place in houses of worship across the country, including the Episcopal Church in the United States of America’s National Cathedral in Washington. Led by several religious leaders, including an imam, a rabbi and a priest, the cathedral service included readings from the Torah and the Q’uran. Similar celebrations took place in more than 70 other churches and 32 other states.




Interfaith Service Hopes to Dispel Stereotypes 9 June , 2011

Shazia Rehman thinks she may have a solution to religious misunderstandings in the world – get together and talk about it.

Rehman, president of the Regina Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, is holding an interfaith dialogue for women of many different perspectives and beliefs to come together and share their experiences.

“We must have more open dialogue,” said Rehman.

“When you’re not attacking somebody else’s belief system you’re able to share your own in a peaceful, understanding and tolerant environment.

“I find it interesting in how similar everybody carries out their practice despite a vastly different background.”